ESOP plan for startups

ESOP plan for startups

The Employee Stock Ownership Plans mean that the employees can own stock or shares in the company they work for in order to give them a meaningful voice in the company’s affairs. The employees of the company are offered affordable stocks in the ESOP Plan for startups at no extra cost. After a certain period of time, the employee can take ownership of the stock which is known as vesting. ESOP plan for startups is aimed at promoting the company and helping the employees as well by giving rewards to them after the company has gone public, wherein the employees align their profits to the company's growth. 

In the present day, the ESOP Plan for startups is meant for attracting fresh talents and incentivizing across different levels as a retention strategy, growth, and reward to motivate and create a sense of ownership for the employees. However, consultations for business-related decisions are necessary. 

Uses For ESOP Plans

In the initial stages of a company that is trying to make a place in the market and in the corporate world, it is not possible to do so with the skills of just an individual. Startups are willing to share the company's future prosperity but often lose the workforce due to the inability to provide lucrative offers at the initial stage. For such reasons, the ESOP provides some relief to the company alongside working as a driving force for the employers to work for the company's performance and growth. ESOP plans for startups have become popular worldwide as a way of increasing the gains for both the company and the employees. 

Why Do You Need an ESOP Plan?

ESOP Plans for startups are basically meant for various purposes like providing markets for the shares of departing owners of companies that performed well and rewarding the employees as well as taking advantage of the incentives and acquiring new assets. The plan's contribution is mostly not a contribution to the purchase made by the employee but rather to the employee. Let us have a look at a few reasons why ESOP plans for startups are something you should consider.

Attracting Skills

As we have read earlier in the article, the ESOP plans for startups aim at attracting skilful people to be hired. Now, the startup needs a workforce that is skilled and is ready to work for the company for as long as possible. In order to do that, the employees need to be assured a reward that they would receive for their skills, hard work, and contribution to the company's growth. The share of the employees who leave within a certain period of time will not receive the payout. Thus, they will be encouraged to stay in the company and work for a longer duration to be entitled to receive the highest share payout possible. An employee who owns a share will be able to receive up to 40 percent of the share upon leaving, which can be an attractive bonus and attract skilful employees and will also work as a secure retirement plan. 

Increase in Productivity

Another way the ESOP plan for Startups can work is by increasing productivity. It does this by making the employees have a stake in the business, which will eventually increase their trust in the company, boost morale, and be more productive. The increase in productivity of the employees and the company's growth are interdependent because the ESOP is beneficial for both the firm and the people working for it. Most startups are willing to share the profits with the shareholders, but that can happen only once the firm goes public and can generate a significant amount of revenue for profit; therefore, the ESOP plan also works as workforce retention.

Exit Strategy for Owners

Passing down of family owners is not that common and with the merger and acquisition activity slowed down due to the pandemic, the ESOP plan for startups can be a great way for the senior owners to keep the company owned by the employees instead of having to sell it to a third party. Earlier, the retiring owners did not have many options, but ESOP makes a great alternate exit strategy for owners that want to retire for whatever reason. 


There is often a chance of change in the governance of the company once the owner retires, which can discourage certain employees who have been comfortable working in the previous ways of governance. This tends to decrease the loyalty and retention of skilful employees who would otherwise be contributing to the growth and great performance of the company. With ESOP in place, it keeps the management onboard and allows the company to keep the relationship consistent with long-term suppliers, distributors, and clients. With consistency in governance and without major changes like employee ownership, the employees' loyalty toward the company increases. 

Tax Advantages

The structure of the ESOP plan for startups provides certain tax benefits by allowing the contributions made to the ESOP by the C-corporations to be tax-deductible. At the same time, the aspect owned by ESOP from S-corporations is tax-exempt. The employees invested in the ESOP plan need to pay tax for the plan only when they withdraw the money post their retirement, just like the standard retirement account. The stock contributions, just like the contributions used for paying the ESOP loans, are tax-deductible for the convenience of the employees. 


With the trend of startups increasing in the current generation, most of those companies and firms are likely to opt for ESOP plans for startups. This will benefit not only the company but also the employees working for it, who will be encouraged to work for upgrading their skills as well as maintain their loyalty to the company and work for a longer time for a secure retirement plan if their company does well. However, before deciding to take up the ESOP plan for startups, it is important to evaluate and consult with knowledgeable and experienced advisors regarding ESOP's accounting and legal and administrative issues. 

Especia is here to guide you to further information on ESOP and other business-related topics. For more information, click here.

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